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Myspace Settles FTC Case Charging Privacy Violations

Myspace has agreed to recurring privacy assessments over the next 20 years to ensure the security of its users

MySpace has settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission that the social network misled users about its safeguarding of their personal information.

The FTC announced on Tuesday that in accordance with the settlement, MySpace would submit to independent privacy assessments every two years for the next 20 years and institute a rigorous privacy program. The settlement also bars MySpace from “misrepresenting the extent to which it protects the privacy of users’ personal information or the extent to which it belongs to or complies with any privacy, security or other compliance program.”

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The conflict came out of MySpace’s privacy policy, which the commission felt the company did not follow.

In setting up a personal profile, MySpace users created a “Friend ID,” and MySpace promised users it would not share any of the personal information on their profile, such as age, gender or pictures.

According to an FTC investigation, MySpace provided advertisers with the Friend ID of certain users, enabling the advertisers to find specific MySpace profiles of interest and gather information about said users.

Specific Media bought MySpace in June of 2011, hoping to transform the flagging social network into an entertainment hub. Specific issued a lengthy statement in response to the settlement, part of which goes as follows:

“Consumer privacy has always been a chief concern at Specific Media. […] That’s why one of our first actions after acquiring Myspace was to thoroughly examine the company’s business practices and, where applicable, make improvements. A major focus of this review was to ensure that Myspace delivered advertisements to consumers in a manner that safeguarded their privacy.” 

“In order to put any questions regarding Myspace’s pre-acquisition advertising practices behind us, Myspace has reached an agreement with the FTC that makes a formal commitment to our community to accurately disclose how their information is used and shared.”